The Gender Beat: Keenan-Reuben Murder Accused Found Guilty; Anti-LGBT Furore in Indonesia

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes. Photo: PTI.

Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes. Photo: PTI.

Keenan-Reuben murder accused found guilty, sentenced to life imprisonment

In October 2011, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes were murdered after standing up to a group of men who were harassing their friends. Now, all four accused – Jitendra Rana, Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulhaj and Dipak Tival – have been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The two young men had stepped out of a restaurant in Andheri with a group of friends when the women in the group were sexually harassed by the perpetrators. After Keenan and Reuben stood up to them, the perpetrators went away and returned with more people and weapons. They then beat and stabbed Keenan and Reuben. Keenan died on the spot and Reuben battled his injuries for ten days before succumbing to them.

Keenan’s father, Valerian Santos told reporters that he did not want capital punishment, but life imprisonment, for the perpetrators.

Guest house owner who raped Russian woman in Goa surrenders

James D’Souza, accused of raping a 25-year-old Russian woman who was staying at his guest house in Pernem, Goa has surrendered.

He had disappeared after the woman lodged a police complaint against him, until he surrendered to the Judicial Magistrate on May 4.

D’Souza is accused using a masterkey to enter the victim’s room and raping her in the wee hours of the morning.

Indian woman techie says she has won sexual harassment lawsuit against Wipro

Shreya Ukil, a 40-year-old woman says has won a sexual harassment lawsuit against her ex-employer, the IT company Wipro. Ukil was employed with the company’s London office.

Her legal counsel said in a statement, “Ukil was victimised by Wipro’s leadership for speaking up about sex discrimination, unequal pay and a culture of sexism.”

Ukil worked with the company for almost a decade, won multi-million dollar contracts for the company and was awarded for her work. However, she started raising concerns in 2012 which were ignored.

Ukil said that the matter of compensation will be decided at a later date.

However, a statement from the company contradicts Ukil’s statement, saying instead that the court found that her dismissal from the company was not unfair.

Anti-LGBT furore grows in Indonesia

Following homophobic remarks made by Indonesia’s Technology, Research and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir, the country is witnessing what Asia Pacific Report is calling a “polarised and violent” public debate on LGBT rights. In January 2016, Nasir said that universities must uphold “values and morals” and therefore refrain from supporting campus LGBT groups.

After this remark sparked a furore among LGBT rights proponents, Nasir backtracked by saying that his ministry was not against LGBT people per se, but objected LGBT individuals kissing, romancing or “making love” in public. The report says: “In other words, Nasir was not concerned about LGBT per se, but rather felt threatened by moves perceived to increase LGBT collective visibility.”

Since then, says the report, there has been a media frenzy around the issue, into which conservative leaders have weighed in. A number of prominent public figures have made homophobic statements, including former communications minister Tifatul Sembiring who has publicly encouraged his large Twitter following to kill LGBT people.

Read the full and detailed report here.

Bangladesh’s LGBT community living in fear after murders

Rights group say that the killing of two LGBT activists has pushed Bangladesh’s LGBT community further underground.

Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch said, “They have gone into hiding. They are feeling particularly vulnerable.”

“LGBT people are hardly likely to have faith in a government that pretty much denies the LGBT community exists,” she added.

One of the people murdered, Xulhaz Mannan, had repeatedly outlined the dangerous of being gay in Bangladesh. In a blog entry posted in 2014, he said Bangladesh was “a country where the predominant religions identify a same sex lover as a sinner, the law of the land as a criminal; social norms as pervert; culture as imported — how should life be for LGBTs in Bangladesh?”

Homosexual relations in Bangladesh are punishable up to life imprisonment.

Five people have been killed in the country this year, as nine were last year. Most are freethinkers, atheists or rights activists.

Stranger attacks transgender woman on NYC subway 

A transgender woman recorded a woman sitting across from her on the New York City subway saying derogatory things about the transwoman’s race and gender.

After the tirade, the stranger allegedly physically assaulted the transgender woman. No bystanders intervened.

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